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How a feisty Florida town fends off malls

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Whether led by former rumrunners or wealthy newcomers, places such as Ybor City, Tarpon Springs, Saint Augustine, and Boca Grande are glimmers of "old" Florida amid the flood of cookie-cutter condos throughout the state's inland and coastal communities.

What's unusual about Everglades City is that it has been less interested in acquiring money and influence than in maintaining the pirate's mentality, says James Kaserman, co-author of "Pirates of Southwest Florida: Fact and Legend." "They like their independence. They like not having to sit in little boxes and follow the maddening crowd," says Jeanette Schwam, a 33-year resident of Everglades City. "That's what their forefathers were.... They don't want it to be a millionaire's cove. They want it to be an individual place."

The area's pirate mind-set remained alive and well until the early 1980s. Then, in 1983, federal law enforcement – with help from the Coast Guard and the Navy SEALs – blockaded Everglades City for three days, arresting nearly every adult male on smuggling charges.

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